House Democrat apologizes for attack on film crew 

Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., apologized after being caught on video attacking a young man who was trying to interview him on a Washington D.C. sidewalk.

Etheridge, a grandfather of six and a Sunday school teacher, can be seen attacking a young man with a camera who asked him, "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?"

The explosive video was posted Monday by Andrew Breibart, who runs his own news site and was responsible for bringing attention to the undercover video sting operation involving ACORN staffers that eventually led to that organization's demise. It quickly went viral and became the focus of news stories across the country, especially in North Carolina.

"I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved," Etheridge said in a statement. "Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."

Two men in the Etheridge video approach the lawmaker as he is leaving a fundraiser put on by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. They tell him they are students working on a project.

Etheridge 68, repeatedly asks the man with the camera, "who are you?" Etheridge appears to knock the camera out of the man's hand, before grabbing his arm and then his neck, in an effort to get an answer and get control of the microphone.

The man repeatedly tells Etheridge, "please let go of my arm."

Etheridge is serving his seventh term and was was considered likely to win an eighth term in the fall, though his Republican opponent, Renee Ellmers, has seized on the video.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jon Thompson said Etheridge "has lost it," and called his actions "beyond the pale."

Etheridge, hails from a district with a strong base of Republican voters and is thus a moderate, though he's not a member of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and voted for the stimulus package and health care reform bill.

He's been a businessman and tobacco farmer and said he currently teaches Sunday school at his church in North Carolina's second congressional district.

Breitbart's site hides the identity of the blue-blazer clad videographers, but says they are students working on a project to get Democrats on the record about the president's agenda.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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